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Robin Robinson - Citizen Columnist

Is your houseplant smarter than you?

Do plants have intelligence? That depends on how intelligence is defined. Scientists know through experiments that they are capable of cognition, memory, learning, communication, computation and information processing, according to Michael Pollan in the New Yorker magazine. This subject is what scientists have been arguing about for the last 15 years. Remember that plants change[…]

Free love in Key West

Fire dancers who passionately fling their blazing batons into the dark sky create no more spectacular in-flare-scence than that the Mexican flame vine flung over a chain mail fence. Hundreds of day-glow orange vigorous blossoms grow with ardent fervor twining over trellises, fences and up the trunks of palm trees. The vine knows every step[…]

One sticky situation: Death in Paradise

There is a love-hate relationship between the small Pisonia floridana and bird-lovers. While the bees go bonkers when it sets nectar, later when it seeds they are trapped on its sticky coatings and are found dead on its seed-bearing fruit. It’s not so bad when finding insects, but when coming across a dead hummingbird trapped[…]

What goes snap, crackle and pop?

Ruella’s one-inch, bean-like seedpods burst open with a sound like your crispy morning breakfast cereal and shoot 20 tiny seeds as far as ten feet away. When wet, the seeds are sticky and easily transported via latching on to an animals fur. Since the seeds are 98% germinating, ruella can be invasive in places where[…]

Zig-zag stems enhance the devil’s backbone or Hummingbirds and the devil

The peculiar shaped stem of the devil’s backbone (Euphorbia tithymaloids) shrub inspired many of the common names of the plant. The zig-zag is an unusual shape in nature as it is in architecture and other related fields. It is also called rick-rack. The stem is thick, wiry and upright and grows up to eight feet[…]

Spring is Migrating Mania time

Now is the time when snowbirds are heading home and I hear again and again, “I love the seasons.” They imply that Key West has no seasons. I beg to differ with our seasonally blind northbound friends. Spring in Key West is magnificent. Spring is Migrating Mania time in the Keys. We first see it[…]

Pat Tierney — authentic palm reader

It’s all in who you know and Pat Tierney knows palm maven Jason Dewees. They both belong to the International Palm Society. While visiting Tierney, the Key West Garden Club invited Dewees to speak at an impromptu meeting. His jewel-toned vocabulary and enticing enthusiasm made for a fascinating slide show of landscape ideas primarily using[…]

Honey makes the world go ’round

Keez Bees markets honey from a variety of blossoms: black mangroves, palms, wildflowers, tick weed, mamey and 15 others so I was curious to find out how they get the bees to choose nectar from only one source. It turns out that sometime 200 million years ago bees developed the practice on their own. Once[…]

Precious parks that are lost in plain sight

Mary Brady and Christa Varacalli toured the Key West Garden Club members through some of Key West’s least known, but precious parks. Little Hamaca and Fran Ford’s White Crowned Pigeon Park reside on Government Road behind the airport. Most tourist maps don’t include that road on the maps. There are 161/2 acres of tropical hammock[…]